A Better Life… Perhaps…
Some days are more of a struggle than others. Wake up, have some coffee, kiss the kids goodbye and get to work. Fortunately for me, pants are optional as I work from home most days. If I had to go out and great the world every day, I’d probably go mad.
Still, there’s a job to do, bills to pay, windows to stare out of wondering what I could be doing instead of devoting my life to the cause of financial security. Did the people that lived here before Columbus arrived on the continent worry about bills and retirement? They must have had similar concerns of some sort, I can practically walk to one of their famous fishing holes from where I live. Surely they couldn’t have been happy living off of wild game, fish, and berries.
We do that for entertainment now, hunt and fish. We make a day trip out of picking berries at the local U-pick farm. There must have been some type of American-Indian grocery store where they could buy yogurt or an occasional Mango… right?
I think the country must have been larger then. It seems unlikely that there is enough space on the riverbank for us all to fish. It seems impossibly to believe there are enough deer in woods to feed us all. I haven’t even seen one in the area since I was a child. Yes… I live just a few miles from where I up and seeing a deer, or a mountain lion in the area wasn’t impossible. Once, when I was a child, even a bear was removed from our neighborhood. Don’t worry, it was just a small bear. It probably wanted to play ball with the rest of the kids in the area.
I think this is why I struggle so from time to time. I don’t understand how we got to this place. I grew up hearing stories of a horrific time. Food rationing and war, fear of the draft and times of great poverty. But I remember a time of houses under $40,000 and an annual income that was close to the same. I remember when a millionaire was something special and a mansion was only 5000 square feet.
There was a time when there were only five television stations to watch and you didn’t carry a phone in your pocket. Nobody got angry if you didn’t answer, they just called you back later. T.V used to be free and you could repair your car without a computer degree.
It’s fun to remember the days when you could get a job out of high school and survive. Who wanted to graduate college with $12,000 in student loans so you could get a job, in customer service, at one of the really large corporations. Working in the malls was perfect, you could make enough to get your own apartment and have enough left over to buy beer. The malls have been replaced with superstores and online shopping. The fast food chains and remaining retail stores are now manned by adults trying to make a living instead of students and teens. No wonder so many 20 somethings still live at home.
Life is better now. All of those small inconveniences and indignations we had to suffer have been replaced with unlimited connectivity; cars that cost as much as houses but get at least six miles to the gallon more on the freeway (Oh the savings over time). Houses are bigger and better; we barely have to see our family members throughout the day anymore. Now our kids can go off to college and graduate with $120,000 in student loans so they can get a job, still in customer service, at one of the really large corporations.
If there is a point to this rambling, it would be this: Yes life is more convenient and possibly better in this day and age, but it’s come at a cost. Whether or not it’s worth the price is open for debate, but some days it’s just nice to step off of the merry-go-round and watch it spin. Many of us spin and spin and never take the time to wonder where we are going, or more importantly… why.
There’s a very famous parable I’ll leave you with that is a personal favorite. I think it sums up the quandary quite nicely….
“The Mexican Fisherman and the Investment Banker (Author Unknown)
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”
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